collection of stories, photos, art and information on Stalag Luft I
If you are a former Prisoner of War or a next of
kin of a POW, we invite you to sign and leave your email address so others that
come may find you. Please mention camp, compound, barracks and room numbers if
James Richard Williams, Jr. Eufaula, AL
398th Bomb Group - 600th Bomb Squadron
Left Waist Gunner on B-17
Stalag Luft I, North Compound III
Enlisted in the Army Air Corps on 10/7/42. Shot down November 26, 1944 on a mission to Misburg,
Germany. Departed Dulag Luft - Wetzlar on Dec. 23, 1944 for the train ride to Barth.
He arrived at Stalag Luft I the day after Christmas, 1944.
After the war Dad returned to
his hometown of Eufaula, Alabama where he lived for the remainder of
his life. He met and married Barbara "Peggy" Pressley from
Americus, Georgia. They have 4 children (3 daughters and 1 son)
and 5 grandchildren. He was a wonderful, kind and giving man who
was adored by his family and friends. He had a massive heart attack at age 56
and passed away on June 10, 1979.
He was one of the POWs that did not wait to be evacuated from
Stalag Luft I. He told our Mother that he and some other men left the camp,
found a boat and rowed across the water. From there they met up
with some Russian camp followers and rode with them for awhile. He said
they scared him to death with their drinking and the random firing of
their guns into the air. Eventually they made their way to
the Allied lines and were then sent by jeep to Camp Lucky Strike in LeHarve, France. Upon arriving there he learned that the 8th Air
Force had airlifted the POWs out of Barth shortly after he left and now
he was last in line to get on a liberty ship to return to the
home to the states!
We have been unable to locate Mr. Charles Zimmer's family. Any information you have will be welcome.
Members of the Zimmer Crew at Drew Field
The picture on the right shows our Dad with other members of the Zimmer
crew. They trained together in Tampa and flew 29 missions before they
were shot down on November 26, 1944. After a brief glimpse, when
the doors were opened for a second in solitary at Dulag Luft in
Oberursel, they never saw or heard from each other again. Dad went
to Stalag Luft I, The others were sent to Stalag Luft IV.
From left to right, Dick Williams, Jr. of Eufaula, AL,
Jim Strafford of Portsmouth, OH, Phern Stout
of Lockwood, MO. and Opher Rumney of Manchester Depot, VT
Dick Williams, Jr. a waist gunner on a B-17 during World War
II and a Prisoner of War at Stalag Luft I in Barth, Germany.
Pictured above is Dad at Drew Field in Tampa, FL. during his
Dad's Prisoner of War German Identification Card (obtained after the
One of the most famous photos of a B-17 - This B-17 of the
398th Bomb Group (my Dad's group) incredibly made it safely back to base in
spite of considerable damage. (click on photo to enlarge). Dad was in
Nuthampstead the day this one arrived back from Cologne and I can't help but
wonder what he thought when he saw it. The pilot, Lt. Lawrence
Delancey was awarded the Silver Star. The bombardier was killed instantly.
Click here to read the details in the Award of the
Silver Star to Lt. Delancey.
From our guestbook:
Bennett Carpenter Hometown: Opelika,Alabama Sent: 1:54 PM - 6/27 2000
Growing up in Eufaula, Alabama, the twin daughter of Gay and Clarence
Bennett, M.D., I spent many happy family holidays visiting in the home of
Aunt Carolyn and Brother Dick and seeing Barbara, Jim, Doris, and Mary
growing up. Dick Jr. was always so pleasant to be around, with such a
sweet smile. He carried his memories of the War Camp well. I loved him
and his family and still do love his children and Aunt
Peggy. I would
love to meet Allison and the other children.
Name: Doris Hometown: Eufaula, AL Sent: 9:27 PM - 6/18 2000
Happy Father's Day Daddy!! I miss you so much.
Name: Doris Hometown: Eufaula, AL Sent: 10:52 PM - 5/26 2000
I visit this page occasionally and was drawn here tonight I guess
because of the Memorial Day weekend and thoughts turned to Daddy. So far
I have not made it through the site without crying...I guess I inherited
that sentimental stuff from Daddy...he did love his family so. I love
the letters you have added from Nannie and Poppoo (I remember rummaging
through Mom's boxes last year when we discovered those letters!) You did
a great job recapping the jest of the letters. I'm so glad that you and
Mom went to the reunion...not only to have been there firsthand and
witnessing the place that held our father captive but also I'm glad that
you and Mom shared the experience together. As we get older there are
fewer and fewer chances to really bond with a parent. This was one of
those times for you and Mom...Daddy would be pleased.
Earl Baker E-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org Hometown: Eufaula,Alabama Sent: 8:22PM - 5/8
I did not meet Mr. Dick Williams until after the war. But I remember him as a
fine gentleman that always applied the golden rule to all his business
Doris Williams Fowler Sent: 6:00 PM - 2/27 2000
Thank you for honoring Daddy's life and service to his country. Your
tireless research has filled in a blank spot we all had regarding his short
life. I feel certain that this web page is once again making him proud of
his daughter! I'm proud of you too big Sis!!
Duties and Responsibilities of
Excerpt from the Pilot Training Manual for the B-17 Flying
The B-17 is a most effective gun platform, but its effectiveness can be
either applied or defeated by the way the gunners in your crew perform
their duties in action.
Your gunners belong to one of two distinct categories: turret gunners
and flexible gunners.
The power turret gunners require many mental and physical qualities
similar to what we know as inherent flying ability, since the operation of
the power turret and gunsight are much like that of airplane flight
While the flexible gunners do not require the same delicate touch as
the turret gunner, they must have a fine sense of timing and he familiar
with the rudiments of exterior ballistics.
All gunners should be familiar with the coverage area of all gun
positions, and be prepared to bring the proper gun to bear as the
conditions may warrant.
They should be experts in aircraft identification. Where the Sperry
turret is used, failure to set the target dimension dial properly on the
K-type sight will result in miscalculation of range.
They must be thoroughly familiar with the Browning aircraft machine
gun. They should know how to maintain the guns, how to clear jams and
stoppages, and how to harmonize the sights with the guns. While
participating in training flights, the gunners should be operating their
turrets constantly, tracking with the flexible guns even when actual
firing is not practical. Other airplanes flying in the vicinity offer
excellent tracking targets, as do automobiles, houses, and other ground
objects during low altitude flights.
The importance of teamwork cannot he overemphasized. One poorly trained
gunner, or one man not on the alert, can be the weak link as a result of
which the entire crew may be lost.
Keep the interest of your gunners alive at all times. Any form of
competition among the gunners themselves should stimulate interest to a
Finally, each gunner should fire the guns at each station to
familiarize himself with the other man's position and to insure knowledge
of operation in the event of an emergency.